Bariatric Surgery Extends Life For Very Obese People

Two large studies, both published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have just confirmed that if you’re obese, weight loss surgery can make you live longer. A Swedish study tracked about 4000 obese people, about half of whom had undergone gastric bypass or lap band surgery.

Eleven years later, the death rate was 29 percent lower for the people who’d had surgery. Most of the deaths in the non-surgical group were related to heart disease.

A seven-year American study followed nearly 16,000 obese people, half of whom had undergone gastric bypass. For the half who’d had the surgery, long-term mortality dropped forty percent. And the gains were especially positive for people with type 2 diabetes: deaths from diabetes dropped 92 percent.

According to bariatric surgeon Dr. George Fielding, bariatric surgery virtually eliminates the high risk of diabetes associated with obesity. And Ted Adams, lead author of the American study, reports that more than eighty percent of obese patients who have diabetes are cured of their diabetes mere weeks after gastric bypass surgery, probably due to hormonal and metabolic changes caused by the surgery.

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Sources: Medline Plus; LA Times; Time Magazine; New England Journal of Medicine, August 2007

For more on bariatric surgery, see “Bariatric Surgery: The Operation Diet”, June 2007.

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